Evil not only fascinates people in general, but writers as well. In what ways and with what effect has “evil” been treated in Antigone? In the play of ‘Antigone’, evil appears in many forms. There is the soldier who is a traitor to his nation; the sister trying to prove her love for her family yet ends up breaking the law; the king who so eagerly tries to stop rule-breakers yet he himself neglects his flesh and blood.
Here the difference of the two works is seen: The Earth of Mankind gives the impression that characters of power possess evil, whereas in Antigone, evil can be inside all of these opposing individuals.
Polyneices, a soldier who fought against his own nation was to be punished as a traitor by not burying him after his death. When his sister, Antigone, goes against the King’s decree and burry Polyneices, she was also seen as a traitor to her country.
However their other sibling, Ismene, who sits at home as Antigone fights for her brother’s right, is also said to have performed a crime of being a traitor to her family.
Now something we can see from here is that each and every character involved in the story so far possesses evil. This message is summed up by Sophocles in page 204 of the book, in Ode 1, where it says, ‘O fate of man, working both good and evil! ’ What the writer is trying to convey here is more realistic than what is said in ‘The Earth of Mankind’; both evil and good is naturally inside everyone’s mind.
It is one’s choice to do which, but performing a crime is inevitable. Everyone has his or her own ‘evil’ deeds, not only the powerful ones. As seen in my previous explanation on who performs evil deeds in the play of ‘Antigone’, we can see that one evil act leads to another, whereas the chain of good doings ends sooner. Eteocles, who was a soldier and a brother to Antigone, fought bravely for his nation and was buried with honor by the King. Although many respect him for his virtuosity, the play didn’t show that further kindness was done because of him.
However, when Polyneices betrays his nation and fought against it, a number of people are forced to perform evil in his affect. Antigone had to break the law in order to give him his right of getting a burial. Ismene, who was too scared to go against the decree, was said to be a traitor to her family, as she didn’t come to assist Antigone in her mission. They then cause Creon to imprison the sisters, punish them, which then cause him to have a fight with his son. Creon then causes death of Haimon, and therefore leads to the suicide of the Queen.
On page 243, the messenger says, ‘…and her last breath was a curse for their father, the murderer of her sons. ’ A number of misfortunes occur as being the result of one act of evil. The play now gives the effect that evil gives more negative outcomes in comparison to good giving positive results. Here, evil is powerful enough to make such a big impact on its surrounding; bigger than the good. Creon sees Antigone as a traitor to his rules, despite her reasons. Creon imprisoned both Antigone and Ismene for the burial of the nation’s traitor, Polyneices, who is their brother.
It is true that Antigone has broken the law, but according to her logic, it is more important to follow the rules of the Gods than the King. She feels that the dead, no matter what they did in their lives, deserve respect and be buried, and that it was her duty to do so as Polyneices’ sister. She didn’t care that she is breaking the decree, and may be punished to die, as long as this task is done. Creon, being a non-believer of the Gods in the beginning, thinks that breaking the law is crime, no matter for what purpose.
Polyneices was a traitor and he suffers because of himself, thus no one should help him. On page 211, Creon even said to Antigone, ‘An enemy is an enemy, even dead. ’ There is truth in both arguments, and no one can say what is right. Here, the play depicts that the existence of evil depends on how one views it. ‘Antigone’ treats evil as a subjective topic, where it may be seen as a crime from one point of view, but is actually a good deed from another. No evil deed is done without a reason, and the play shows that one should explore, not only what crime has been done, but also why it was done.
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